COCO DE MER

"We must keep a little back shop...where we may establish our own true liberty' (Montaigne)

Though never usually a woman to flaunt and embellish (her architectonic planes are stern and serious) Lynn Hynd reveals a little hint of girlish frou-frou with her faux burr walnut on this occasion. Lying nonchalantly in a faded Regency scheme, what's this? ...a teasing pink feather? A striped and glassy doo-dat? Ooh la la - agent provocateur dans le boudoir!

Like Topping, Hynd's delight lies in recomposing her precious cargo, salvaged from unspecified sources. Who said there's no such thing as a flaneuse? This little dandy scours the streets, admiring lost loot and fancy feathers. Plucking mirrors and doors from obscurity, she polishes them up, makes them shine again. Discarded hope chests become objects of divine decadence in Hynd's hands. Scuffed and kicked dressing tables bear proud scars - a leg stained by Taylor's broken scent bottle, a mirror crack'd by Burton's decanter. In this encounter, Hynd looks sidelong at fashion and, whoosh! A dreary interior is Christian Diored. Cocteau, Dali, Sitwell and Waugh vie for acknowledgement, all assuming the debt is to them, but Hynd gazes back askance - this is all her own! It's brand new second-hand and customised to boot. In truth, these iridescent installations appear as empty, dreamlike film sets.

While eccentric and sumptuous, nouveau-riche they're not, for these scenes may be rich but they're never vulgar. Always one step ahead, Hynd knows when to stop. After all, one slip and trompe l'oeil becomes trompe l'oeuf and over-eggs the pudding. Hynd's skill is bringing out luxuriant richness from pared-down, simple elements. Elegance is, by its very nature, restrained, never blousy and while Hynd's repetition is emphatic and decorative, it pales at the notion of exuberant pastiche. A Wrenaissance woman, Hynd may be grandiose but she's never conceited. These treasures don't need to shout - a frisson of candy pink, a flash of silver in a bevelled mirror is enough. Elsewhere, tonal whispers of chocolate, cream, copper, bronze murmur quietly, hard edges are swathed in dark like cashmere. Lashings of boumville velvet line Sally Bowles's bedroom, Cecil Beaton's Ascot stripes shine in shot silk and satin. Pools of Tiffany-blue lap against sparkling wells of onyx-black: laquered, opulent, expensive. If these scenes are stagy and theatrical they are also discreet, insouciant, effortless, refined 'a Baroque gem on a Chanel suit' (i). (Any theatricality, of course, is serious and assured - Radio Times, m'dear, never Heat!). Salvaged but beloved, Hynd's bounty has a quiet dignity which is always Mies, never mock Tudor.

Susannah Thompson 2004

(i) Philippe Jullian on Jean-Michel Frank's interior for the great salon at the Hotel Bischoffsheim.